(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Swanson Middle School, McKinley Elementary and Ashlawn Elementary were placed in “secure the school” mode Friday morning due to an armed robbery in Fairfax County.
The robbery happened just before 10:30 a.m. in the Willston Center, on the 6100 block of Arlington Blvd. While each are about a mile or more away from the robbery scene, the schools were nonetheless secured as a precaution.
More from Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Harris:
At approximately 10:30 a.m., Swanson, McKinley and Ashlawn enacted our “Secure the School” protocol due to nearby police activity. Students and staff remained safely inside our school buildings for approximately 45 minutes. There was never any danger within the school buildings. A “Secure the School” exercise is not a “Lockdown” protocol. This exercise was in response to police activity within the outside community.
No one was hurt in the robbery, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Robbery reported 10:22am at a store in the 6100blk of Arlington Blvd. Suspect described: Hispanic, 20s, 5'6", dark clothing. No one hurt. pic.twitter.com/4uRhUqwvIT
— Fairfax Co. Police (@fairfaxpolice) June 16, 2017
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The student, an 11- or 12-year-old girl, ran away before the man stopped speaking. Police were called and the school has notified families of the incident, in an email (below) that includes safety tips for students walking home from school.
The girl was not harmed. Police say they’d like to locate and talk with the van driver.
“We want to identify the individual and speak with him,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, “but a crime has not occurred.”
Savage said there have been no other reported incidents involving either a van or a suspect that fit the description in this case.
The letter from Swanson Middle School administrators to parents is below.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We just learned from the Arlington County Police Department that at approximately 3:00 p.m. today, a 12-year-old female student from Swanson Middle School was approached by a man driving a white van. When the man attempted to ask the student a question, she fled to her home. The incident occurred at the intersection of North Carlin Springs Drive and North Park Drive. The suspect is described as a man of American Indian descent, approximately 30 years old.
The student’s mother reported the incident to Arlington County Police and police officers arrived to the scene quickly.
We are grateful that the student was not harmed.
This is a good time for all of us to remind students about some important steps they should always take to ensure their continued safety when they are out in the community, and even take time to role play possible situations with them. Please remind students to:
Always report all incidents immediately to an adult (parent, principal, teacher, resource officer) whenever something occurs that makes them feel unsafe.
- Be aware of their surroundings.
- Don’t wear devices that block their hearing or seeing.
- Avoid talking to, engaging with or answering questions to passersby or strangers.
- Always walk or bicycle with at least one buddy in well-lit areas.
- Use a cell phone, if available, to call for help. (If students have cell phones, make sure that emergency numbers are programmed into the phone so they can be dialed quickly. Also, remind your student that the cell phone should not be used during class time at school.)
Working together, all of us can help to insure that our students have a safe community in which they can continue to grow and learn. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.
According to a new report from Arlington Public Schools, the relocatable classrooms have been deemed the best solution to address overcapacity at the two North Arlington schools.
“In light of all of the opportunities and constraints associated with the options under consideration as well as the community feedback that has been received, APS Instruction and Facilities staff has determined that the use of on-site relocatable classrooms is the most effective, flexible, and least disruptive approach to address interim capacity needs at Swanson and Williamsburg middle schools through 2019,” APS said in the report.
APS plans to have 18 trailers in place at Williamsburg and 14 at Swanson, as an temporary solution to overcrowding until the middle school at the site of the former Stratford Junior High is built in 2019, APS said.
APS is using relocatable classrooms at Swanson and Williamsburg Middle Schools because the trailers allow the school to maintain grade-level communities. Grade-level communities allow schools to group classrooms by grade, which increases student interaction with peers and teachers, APS said.
Each trailer costs about $300,000. The new trailers can stand against 90 mile an hour wind and are equipped with bathrooms and water fountains.
“Relocatable classrooms offer the same technology and similar configuration as regular classrooms, and they provide access to water and bathrooms,” APS said. “The staffing and quality of instruction expected from APS schools remain at the same level for both relocatable and traditional classrooms.”
No student would have all their classes during the day in relocatable trailers, the report notes.
“If a grade-level community is located in relocatable classrooms, there are multiple opportunities for students to move to and from the main building throughout the day. For example, students transition to the field space or the gym for physical education, to another classroom for electives, and to the cafeteria for lunch,” APS said.
APS has formed “school-based facilities committees” at Swanson and Williamsburg to evaluate the effectiveness of the trailers while they are at the middle schools.
“These planning groups are actively collaborating with APS staff and school administrators to determine the most appropriate and effective use of the additional relocatable classrooms, given the unique physical and programmatic attributes of each school community,” APS said.
While Williamsburg and Swanson are not the only middle schools facing capacity issues, they are the two with the greatest need.
“All middle schools are projected to be at or over capacity by 2019 and as a result APS will need to address capacity issues at Kenmore, Thomas Jefferson and Gunston in the coming years,” APS said.
As of earlier this year, APS was planning to add six trailers at Kenmore, four at Thomas Jefferson and 13 at Gunston Middle Schools.
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Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
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